Carmel, Indiana’s Hotel Carmichael, Autograph Collection draws on 18th-century Neoclassicism and the Great American Songbook to inspire traditionalism that captivates modern guests.

Full appreciation of HBA Atlanta’s design for Hotel Carmichael, an Autograph Collection Hotel, requires a bit of a history lesson in the influences that shaped the 122-key property.

Carmel, Indiana, where the hotel is located, is home to the trustee of an iconic legacy in American popular culture history. The Great American Songbook Foundation is dedicated to keeping the early 20th century popular music, jazz and show tunes typically referred to as the “Great American Songbook” alive in the 21st century and beyond. While the term doesn’t refer to a single physical book or specific collection of songs, it does encompass the popular soundscape of America at the time and many of the songs we consider “standards” today.

The same appreciation of tradition led the design team to its second source of major inspiration, albeit a bit further afield. Syon House, the spectacular London home of the Duke of Northumberland, was renovated in the 18th century by the highly influential Neoclassical Scottish architect Robert Adam. Adam’s work at Syon House is credited with launching his signature style, seen in work for other illustrious clients during his lifetime and leaving a permanent mark on European and American architecture and design.

While that inspiration might sound unexpected for a hotel in the Midwestern United States, an ocean and half a country from London, it helps the property achieve a seamless fit with the grandeur and traditionalism of the adjacent music hall, The Palladium.

“The direction from the city was to create something timeless that would be appreciated for years to come, and to do that by incorporating historical elements into each of the spaces as part of our scope for this project including the interior design of the lobby, ballroom, prefunction space, three meeting rooms and two dining venues, as well as all guest levels,” says HBA Atlanta Senior Designer Catherine Josey.

Achieving that mandate required intense focus on each aspect of the design. The details are the stars of this show. From the intricate ceiling medallions and moldings to art inspired by the Great American Songbook and the Doric columns that evoke Syon House in the lobby, these are interiors that pay tribute to the quality and exquisite workmanship that defined the execution of both Neoclassical architecture and immaculate songcraft.

Black and white checker flooring pairs with the black and white stone of the reception desk in the stately lobby. The library uses high wainscoting with rich dark paint to evoke the warmth of a pub, while the prefunction and ballroom spaces are lighter and airier. The two boardrooms are variations on the themes of classic and playful, one with dark millwork walls and wood floors, and the other, with blue lacquered walls. The specialty restaurant evokes a French bistro where bright white at the walls and ceiling serves as a canvas for dark wood and metal detailing. Feinstein’s private dining room—named for Michael Feinstein, the singer, pianist and music revivalist who often performs at The Palladium—takes on a sultry atmosphere with an elaborate mixed-material bar. The guest floors feature a softer palette. Guest rooms are outfitted with blue leather headboards, oversized sectionals for lounging, freestanding bathtubs and chandeliers in every room to continue the traditional feel with decadent accents. Suites center on a blue and yellow palette. All in all, the hotel is a well-composed ode to its influences.

Project: Hotel Carmichael
Location: Indiana, United States
Design Studio: HBA
Photo Credits: Coury Hospitality